Homeless Youth in California SchoolsInformation, resources, and educational outcomes for homeless youth.
Homeless youth and students are a vulnerable population making up three percent of California’s students (2022–23 Census data). This page contains the state level educational outcomes and enrollment data for the homeless youth population. Resources and frequently asked questions are also available to support local educational agencies, homeless liaisons, and homeless student advocates.
Homeless Education's Laws and Definitions
This tab provides information about the McKinney-Vento Act as well as terms related to the homeless student group population specific to the California Department of Education (CDE). For more information and resources for homeless children and youth, visit the CDE Homeless Education web page.
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento Act ) (42 U.S.C. § 11431-11435) is federal legislation that ensures the educational rights and protections of children and youth experiencing homelessness. It requires all local educational agencies (LEAs) to ensure that homeless students have access to the same free, appropriate public education, including public preschools, as provided to other children and youth. The McKinney-Vento Act defines LEAs as public school districts, direct-funded and locally funded charter schools, and county offices of education.
Definitions of Homelessness
The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children and youth as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This definition also includes:
- Children and youth who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; or are abandoned in hospitals;
- Children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
- Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings;
- Migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii)
California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS)
CALPADS is a student-level data system that includes student demographics, course data, discipline, assessments, staff assignments, and other data for state and federal reporting. For more information visit the CALPADS web page.
California School Dashboard (Dashboard)
The Dashboard contains reports that display the performance of local educational agencies (LEAs), schools, and student groups on a set of state and local measures to assist in identifying strengths, challenges, and areas in need of improvement.
Census Day is the first Wednesday in October, also known as Information Day when annual enrollment data are submitted by LEAs to the CDE through CALPADS.
Consolidated Application and Reporting System (CARS)
CARS is a data collection system to apply for Categorical Program Funding and to report on the use of those funds. For more information visit the CARS web page.
The cumulative enrollment data includes an unduplicated count of all students who had a primary or short-term enrollment for at least one day at any time within the academic school year (July 1 to June 30).
Enroll and Enrollment
Enroll and enrollment means a student is signed up to attend classes and participate fully in school activities.
Immediate Enrollment is when a homeless student is entitled to immediately enroll in any public school that students in the same area are eligible to attend; even if: students have missed application or enrollment deadlines during any period of homelessness or students do not have required documents, such as school records, records of immunization and other required health records, proof of residency, guardianship, or other documents.
Homeless youth is defined as children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.
- Hotels/Motels means living in a hotel or motel due to not having a fixed, permanent residence.
- Temporarily Doubled-Up means living with relatives or friends, due to economic hardship (including unaccompanied youth and runaways).
- Temporary Shelters means living in transitional housing.
- Temporarily Unsheltered* means living in abandoned buildings, campgrounds, vehicles, trailer parks, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers, bus and train stations, or is abandoned in the hospital.
- *Unsheltered is also defined as substandard or inadequate housing and is judged on a case-by-case basis. A rule of thumb would be to see the dwelling as comparable to an automobile, in that it shelters, yet it is not adequate housing.
Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)
The LCFF establishes uniform grade span grants in place of the myriad of previously existing K–12 funding streams, including revenue limits, general-purpose block grants, and most state categorical programs (see School District and Charter School LCFF Entitlement). For county offices of education (COEs), the LCFF establishes funding for oversight activities and instructional programs (see County Office of Education LCFF Entitlement).
All LEAs are required to report the number of homeless students enrolled during a school year through CALPADS and the Annual Homeless Survey.
- Fixed residence is one that is stationary, permanent, and not subject to change.
- Regular residence is one that is used on a normal, standard, and consistent basis.
- Adequate residence is one that is sufficient for meeting both the physical and psychological needs typically met in home environments.
School of Origin
School of origin is defined as the school that a child or youth attended when permanently housed, the school in which the child or youth was last enrolled when they became homeless, or a school that the child or youth has had some sort of connection to within the last 15 months.
School stability measures whether a student is enrolled in the same school for an entire school year without a break in enrollment.
Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
Unaccompanied Homeless Youth is defined as a youth that is not in the physical custody of their parent or guardian and meets the definition of homelessness, as stated above.
Quick Facts Data
This tab provides quick facts about homeless students. Please visit the Homeless Children and Youth Data Reports web page to access static data reports specifically for homeless youth.
Census Day Statewide Homeless Student Enrollment Chart
Data Source: Annual Enrollment on DataQuest which consists of the number of students enrolled on the first Wednesday in October.
Census Day Statewide Homeless Student Enrollment Table
Data Source: Annual Enrollment from DataQuest which consists of the number of students enrolled on the first Wednesday in October.
|Total Homeless Enrollment
Cumulative Statewide Homeless Student Enrollment Chart
Data Source: Suspension Rate report from DataQuest which consists of the total number of unduplicated primary and short-term enrollments within the academic year (July 1 to June 30), regardless of whether the student is enrolled multiple times within a school or district.
Cumulative Statewide Homeless Student Enrollment Table
Data Source: Suspension Rate report from DataQuest which consists of the total number of unduplicated primary and short-term enrollments within the academic year (July 1 to June 30), regardless of whether the student is enrolled multiple times within a school or district.
|Total Homeless Enrollment
State Level Educational Outcomes of Homeless Students
This tab provides state level educational outcomes for homeless students, which are published annually on DataQuest. DataQuest is the California Department of Education’s online, public reporting system that provides reports about California’s schools and school districts. To find out how to access reports specifically for homeless youth, visit the Homeless Children and Youth Data web page.
2021-22 Percent of Students Chronically Absent
The graph below displays the 2021–22 school year chronic absence rates for K-12 non-homeless students, 29.4% and homeless students, 46.1%. The chronic absence rate is calculated as the percent of students who miss ten percent or more of the days they are expected to attend. This report is available through DataQuest.
2021–22 Suspension Rate
The graph below displays the 2021–22 school year suspension rates for K-12 non-homeless students, 3.1% and homeless students, 5.6%. Suspension rate is calculated as the percent of all students who were suspended one or more times during the school year for an in-school or out-of-school suspension. This report is available through DataQuest.
2020–21 Stability Report
The stability rates are from a new report that provides a total count of cumulatively enrolled students with an enrollment start date on or after July 1 and on or before June 30 (Adjusted Cumulative Enrollment), a count of students identified as part of the Stability Count (i.e., students with stable enrollments), and a count of students identified as part of the Non-Stability Count (i.e., students without stable enrollments). Students are determined to have a “stable” enrollment during the academic year if the enrollment record is a minimum of 245 consecutive calendar days at the same school without a disqualifying exit. The Adjusted Cumulative Enrollment along with the Stability and Non-Stability Count are used to calculate the Stability Rate (Stability Count divided by the Adjusted Cumulative Enrollment) and the Non-Stability Rate (Non-Stability Count divided by the Adjusted Cumulative Enrollment) at the selected entity for the selected population using the available filters. This report is available through DataQuest.
The graph below displays the 2020–21 Stability Rate for K-12 homeless students, 92.5% and non-homeless students, 85.3%.
2021–22 Four-Year Cohort Graduation Rate
The graph below displays the 2021–22 school year four-year cohort graduation rates for non-homeless students, 88.1% and homeless students, 72.9%. The four-year cohort graduation rate is calculated as the percent of students who graduate high school within four years from the time they enter ninth grade with a traditional high school diploma. This report is available through DataQuest.
2021–22 Four-Year Cohort Dropout Rate
The graph below displays the 2021–22 school year four-year cohort dropout rates for non-homeless students, 7.2% and homeless students, 17.2%. The four-year cohort dropout rate is calculated as the percent of cohort students who (1) do not graduate with a regular high school diploma, (2) do not otherwise complete high school, or (3) are not still enrolled as a “fifth-year senior” are considered dropouts. The report is available through DataQuest.
State Level Accountability for Homeless Youth
This tab provides the latest statewide accountability indicators for homeless youth.
California's accountability system is a multiple measures system that assesses how local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools are meeting the needs of their students. Performance on these measures is reported through the California School Dashboard and System of Support (Dashboard web page).
For the past two years, many state and federal accountability requirements were waived or adjusted due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on LEAs, schools, and students. Beginning with the 2021–22 school year, the requirements to hold schools and districts accountable for student outcomes has returned with the release of the 2022 Dashboard.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires all states to determine schools eligible for support. Similarly, under state law, Assembly Bill (AB) 130, which was signed into law in 2021, mandates the return of the Dashboard using only current year performance data to determine LEAs for support. Therefore, compared to prior Dashboards, the 2022 Dashboard does not report change (or the difference from the prior year) and performance levels using colors. Instead, performance levels for all state indicators are reported using one of five Status levels (ranging from Very High, High, Medium, Low, and Very Low), which are based on the 2021–22 school year data.
English Language Arts
This measure of the Academic Performance state indicator reports student progress on the statewide assessment for English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA). It uses the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments and California Alternate Assessments, and it is calculated based on the average "Distance from Standard" for all students in grades 3 through 8 and/or grade 11. The homeless student group scored 62.9 points below standard. This data is available on the Dashboard .
Number of Students: 98,561
This measure of the Academic Performance state indicator reports student progress on the statewide assessment for mathematics. It uses the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments and California Alternate Assessments, and it is calculated based on the average "Distance from Standard" for all students in grades 3 through 8 and/or grade 11. The homeless student group scored 101.8 points below standard. This data is available on the Dashboard .
Number of Students: 98,179
The Chronic Absenteeism state indicator shows how many students were absent for 10 percent or more of the total instructional school days each student was expected to attend. 45.1 percent of homeless students in grades kindergarten through eighth were chronically absent in the 2021-22 school year. This data is available on the Dashboard .
Number of Students: 149,609
The Graduation Rate state indicator reflects the number of students who graduate with a regular high school diploma in four years or five years. 74.4 percent of homeless students graduated in the 2021-22 school year. This data is available on the Dashboard .
Number of Students: 35,656
Percentage of students in kindergarten through grade 12 who have been suspended at least once in a given school year. Students who are suspended multiple times are only counted once. 5.5 percent of the homeless student group were suspended for at least one day. This data is available on the Dashboard .
Number of Students: 224,199
Geographic Information System (GIS)
This tab provides access and information for the Homeless Census Day Enrollment by School District and Homeless Enrollment Change by District Geographic Information System (GIS) Map. GIS software allows users to create, manage, analyze, and visualize data via a geographic display.
Homeless Census Day Enrollment by School District
The Homeless Census Day Enrollment by School District map is an interactive tool which displays how California’s student homeless population varies geographically throughout the state. The map shows the locations of California’s public school districts linked to district-level student enrollment counts.
Each circle represents a school district and when selected, district directory information will appear along with the homeless percentage, homeless enrollment, and district enrollment. The circle size corresponds to the count of homeless students enrolled. A set of interactive data filters on the left pane enable the user to limit the display of school districts. The map and summary statistics on the right pane update automatically when a filter is applied.
Homeless Enrollment Change by District
On the bottom left corner of the Homeless Census Day Enrollment by School District
map you can open the change map by selecting the “Homeless Enrollment Change by District” icon. This change map displays the difference in homeless enrollment between the two most recent years of data.
Changes in enrollment between the previous and current school years are represented with orange and purple circles. Orange circles indicate an increase in homeless student enrollment from the prior school year and purple circles indicate a zero or decrease in homeless student enrollment from the previous school year. The size of the circle represents the scope of change in homeless student enrollment.
The student data in this application is reported at the school district level and is based on Census Day enrollment counts, which are collected on the first Wednesday in October of each academic year. This information was submitted by local educational agencies (LEAs) and charter schools to the California Department of Education (CDE) as part of the annual Fall 1 data submission in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS). You can access the full Census Day Enrollment reports at this link, DataQuest Annual Enrollment.
Please Note: There is no downloadable data file associated with this map; however, you can copy and paste the district list into a spreadsheet.
Data filters are used to limit the display of school districts. Filter options include district, school year, homeless enrollment count, homeless percent, and charter status, all of which can be used simultaneously. Only school districts that meet the defined conditions will be displayed on the map.
The academic year is the school year when the student data was collected. The two most recent school years, 2021–22 and 2022–23 are available to view on this map.
The Homeless Count is the total enrollment count of K-12 students experiencing homelessness on Fall Census Day (the first Wednesday in October) in the academic year selected. A slide feature allows the user to adjust the desired enrollment count and percentage with fewer students on the left and more students on the right. The size of the enrollment count will be reflected in five distinct symbol sizes, with the smallest being 0 to 25 and the largest being 1,001 to 9,410.
The homeless percent is the percent of K-12 students enrolled who were experiencing homelessness on Fall Census Day (first Wednesday in October) in the academic year selected.
Homeless by Charter Status
The Charter Status filter allows users to view homeless student enrollment with three different filter selections. Users can view enrollments for all schools within a district, only charter schools within a district, or only non-charter schools within a district. For more information about charter schools please visit CDE’s Charter School web page.
Filter Districts by County
A county list and search tool can be found in the top right corner of the map. Once a desired county is selected, the map will only show districts within the selected county, and a district list with corresponding homeless student enrollment data will appear on the right-side column. For more information about school districts in California, please visit the California School Directory.
This tab provides resources specific to the needs and outcomes of homeless children and youth.
Educational Support Services
- Resources for Homeless Children and Youth
This page provides access to resources related to homeless students' rights to enroll and participate fully in school.
- Homeless Education
This page provides access to information and resources for homeless children and youth and their right to enroll, attend, participate fully, and succeed in school.
- New Identification Strategies and Resources in Response to Coronavirus (DOCX)
Identification strategies and resources for LEAs in response to Coronavirus for students experiencing homelessness in one easy to access page.
- CDE’s Homeless Education Resource Listserv
Join the Homeless Children and Youths Education Resources listserv to receive information and updates via e-mail relating to the education of homeless children.
- Homeless Census Day Enrollment by School District GIS Map
Homeless Enrollment Change by District Geographic Information System (GIS) Map. GIS software allows users to create, manage, analyze, and visualize data via a geographic display.
- Homeless Children and Youth Data
This page provides access to information and DataQuest reports for California's homeless children and youth.
- Accessing Educational Data
This page provides access to data collected by the California Department of Education (CDE), including enrollment data, demographic and student group data, staff data, school and district accountability, statewide assessment results, and directory information.
- Homeless Data Collection Timeline
The page provides data collection timelines for California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CAPLADS) and Consolidated Application and Reporting System (CARS).
- Data Crosswalk for the California School Dashboard and DataQuest (DOCX)
This Data Crosswalk document provides a short overview of the differences in the way that data are produced for DataQuest and the California School Dashboard.
- California Homeless Education Technical Assistance Centers (HETAC)
HETAC provides support and technical assistance to county offices of education (COEs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and other interested stakeholders to ensure educational access and success for children and youth experiencing homelessness. The HETAC network is operated by the Contra Costa COE, Los Angeles COE, and San Diego COE.
- The National Center for Homeless Education’s (NCHE) data web site
For more information about State Level Data and Contact Information.
- NCHE’s data page for California
The most recently available years of the U.S. Department of Education's EDFacts Initiative including homeless youth enrollment, subgroups, and contact information.
- Schoolhouse Connection
A national non-profit organization working to overcome homelessness through education.
- YOU COUNT California Youth Homelessness Data Hub
The California Homeless Youth Project (CHYP) is a research and policy initiative of the California Research Bureau (CRB). The project is committed to bringing youth to the policy table and to informing policymakers, opinion leaders, and other stakeholders about the needs of unaccompanied homeless youth.
Frequently Asked Questions
The sections below address the most commonly asked questions about homeless student data.
How do I determine if a student is Homeless?
A student is determined homeless if they lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Examples of homelessness include children and youth living in:
- Shared housing due to economic hardship, loss of housing, or natural disasters
- Motels or hotels
- Public or private places not designed for sleeping
- Trailer parks or campgrounds
- Cars, parks, and abandoned buildings
- Emergency or transitional shelter
If a student becomes permanently housed are they still counted in cumulative count?
Yes. If a student was homeless at any time between July 30 to June 1, they will still be considered homeless.
How does identification affect my funding?
Under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), any student identified for free or reduced-price meals (FRPM) are included in the schools’ socioeconomically disadvantaged accountability subgroup. Homeless students automatically qualify for FRPM, and therefore, generate LCFF funds for local educational agencies (LEAs). In addition, homeless students are automatically eligible for Title I services, regardless of their current academic performance.
What are some identification strategies?
- Ensure every student who enrolls fills out the School Housing Questionnaire(PDF).
- Ensure homeless student data is properly entered in the Student Information System (SIS) and California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) 5.4/ 5.5.
- Ensure all school faculty and personnel are trained to identify when a student is homeless.
- Attend Identification webinars offered by California Department of Education (CDE) and local educational agencies (LEA's).
- Identifying Children and Youth in Homeless Situations(PDF)
- This National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) brief summarizes the key provisions of the McKinney-Vento Act related to the identification of children and youth experiencing homelessness, and provides an overview of implementation strategies at the state and local level.
Do LEAs need to verify homelessness every year?
Yes. Homelessness should be verified at the beginning and at the end of each school year to ensure students are appropriately counted for Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) purposes. If a student is still homeless, no change is necessary; however, if a student is no longer homeless, be sure to populate the program end date to prevent students from inaccurately being reported as homeless.
What is the Housing Questionnaire and how do I complete it?
The California Department of Education (CDE) developed a sample Housing Questionnaire and it is a highly recommended best practice to assist local educational agencies (LEAs) with the identification of homeless children and youth. The Education for Homeless Children and Youth program states that all LEAs and their homeless liaisons must ensure that homeless children and youth are identified by school personnel through outreach and coordination with other agencies.
LEAs are defined as county offices of education (COEs), school districts, and charter schools.
LEAs need to take a proactive approach to identify homeless children and youth. It is the first step to connecting these students and their families with information, resources, and supports necessary to ensure that they have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including public preschool education, as is provided to other children and youth.
You can access the Housing Questionnaire sample as well as guidance on completing it on the CDE’s Resources for Homeless Children and Youth website.
How often should the homeless data be updated in California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS)?
CALPADS needs to be updated on Census Day (First Wednesday in October) and at least once in the academic year (if the student was not homeless on Census Day, but was homeless sometime in the academic year). Although not required, local education agency (LEAs) are strongly encouraged to regularly update data in CALPADS throughout the academic year to ensure youth are correctly identified as homeless.
When are homeless data collected in CALPADS?
Homeless data are collected continually throughout the school year and are certified twice a year: once during Fall 1 certification window and once during the End of Year 3 (EOY3) certification window. local education agency (LEAs) are strongly encouraged to regularly update data in CALPADS throughout the academic year to ensure youth are correctly identified as homeless. Refer to the CALPADS Calendar for submission windows and certification deadlines.
What should I do with preschool 0-5 age data?
Local education agency (LEAs) should submit a homeless program record for infant, toddler, and pre-K children who are enrolled in CALPADS and who are homeless, as these students are included in all homeless reports in CALPADS. For more information refer to the CALPADS Data Guide(DOCX; Dated 14-Feb-2020).
What is the difference between CALPADS and Consolidated Application and Reporting System CARS?
The CARS is a data collection system to apply for Categorical Program Funding and to report on the use of those funds. CALPADS collects homeless enrollment information. CALPADS is a data reporting system through which LEAs report specific data used to determine Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funding allocations and to calculate educational outcomes.
What are the typical reporting categories in CALPADS for homeless youth?
Temporary Doubled Up, Temporary motel/Hotel, Temporary Sheltered, Temporary Unsheltered. For more details, please see the Definitions section.
What is the statewide average number of homeless students enrolled in school?
There is no statewide average.
When is California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) data certified?
Homeless student data are certified two times a year in CALPADS. The Fall 1 submission is certified in late January and early February and End of Year 3 (EOY 3) submission is certified in late August.
In order to certify data in CALPADS, authorized district or charter school personnel are required to review the accuracy of all data associated with the applicable CALPADS submission. CALPADS certification is a two-step process with Level-2 certification reserved. Refer to the CALPADS Calendar for the submission windows and certification deadlines.
When is Consolidated Application and Reporting System (CARS) data certified?
CARS Winter and Spring certification dates can be found here CARS Calendar Release Schedule.
What is the difference between California School Dashboard and DataQuest?
The California School Dashboard
(Dashboard) provides data on school and district progress so they can participate in decisions to improve student learning. DataQuest provide data and statistics about California’s K–12 public educational system that supports a wide variety of informational, research, and policy needs. Summary and detailed data reports are available for multiple subject areas at the school, district, county, and state levels.
For more information on the differences between the California School Dashboard and DataQuest please visit Data Crosswalk for the California School Dashboard and DataQuest(DOCX).
What is the difference between Cumulative data and Census data?
Cumulative enrollment data includes an unduplicated count of all students who had a primary or short-term enrollment for at least one day anytime within the school year (July 1 to June 30). Cumulative enrollment data can be found on California Department of Edcation's (CDE's) Cumulative Enrollment Data website. Annual enrollment (Census Day enrollment) consists of the number of students enrolled on Census Day (the first Wednesday in October). Census Day enrollment data can be found on CDE's Annual Enrollment website.
How can counties access CALPADS 5.4 and 5.5 reports?
In order to access and review C/A Report 5.4, a CALPADS user must have the County role added to their CALPADS account. For more information access CALPADS Update Flash #182.